The Old Lady and Her Dog

Background: My informant was a young Filipino  girl who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She currently is a student at the University of Minnesota studying Double B.A. Global Studies and Cultural Studies.

Performance Context: According to the informant, she was told this story a few weeks ago by her friend while they were camping. She then while listening remembered her own version of the stories. The two stories ended slightly different.

Main Piece: There was an old lady who lives by herself with a dog. Then there is this murderer going around killing people in “the town”, “wherever she lives”. She hears about it on the TV, so she gets really worried. She realizes that she lives by herself, kind of far from town, so she thinks he won’t come her. The dog normally lays next to her on the floor while she is sitting on her chair. To feel calm and to relax herself, she will always put her hand at the bottom of the chair and the dog will lick her hand. So one night, while she’s alone in her room sleeping, she wakes up kind of freaked out thinking of the murderer. While she’s laying on the bed, to reassure herself, she puts her hand down by her bed and her dog licks her hand. And then she goes back to sleep. Then she wakes up again and then she puts hand by the bedside again, and the dog licks her hand a second time. Then, what happens next differs between the two stories. In the story told by her friend, the morning comes and the woman goes to the backyard and she realizes that she accidentally left the dog tied up in the backyard all night. In the version my informant remembers, she goes to the bathroom and she opens the shower, where the dog is hanging and dead. On the wall of the shower written in blood is “you’re next.”

To the informant, it’s just a scary campside story. It’s scary because of the idea of a strange person licking your hand. It’s a fear based out of the idea of invasion of privacy.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how Americans often play this thematic motif of invasion of privacy. It derives out of our inability to cope with the idea, in a world that people find perhaps more confusing as information spreads, that there might be people in the unknown that may do unspeakable or strange twisted acts that disrupt our natural understanding of social boundaries and cultural rules. It’s an extension of the fear of the unknown as well as xenophobia.